A fire tragedy struck in the early morning hours of Merdeka Day. The incident occurred in a past mining town of Sungai Lembing in the Kuantan District, which caused the tragic loss of lives and the destruction of 20 shophouses, 11 terrace houses and a library—all of which are believed to be about 100 years old.
The Pertubuhan Atkitek Malaysia (PAM) voiced their concern over the need to upgrade fire and life-safety measures for all heritage buildings particularly older buildings that are lacking in critical fire safety features.
Fire safety measures are important, particularly for timber buildings that are constructed in terraced form or in close proximity to one another, which are deemed to be at higher risk of a rapid fire spread, said Lilian Tay, President of PAM.
“Preventive measures such as providing sufficient outdoor hose reels at minimum intervals and any other active systems can prevent untoward incidences to heritage buildings. Upgrading fire-safety with passive measures such as improving fire exit solutions and party walls for higher fire-resistance should also be done to enhance life-safety conditions in these old buildings. However, addition of new fire safety protection in historical buildings must also be done with due consideration to preserving the original features and authenticity of these heritage buildings which give character to our historical towns.” She added.
As the national professional institute representing architects in Malaysia, PAM calls on relevant authorities, architects, engineers and specifiers to ensure adequate fire safety provisions to heritage buildings or historical towns. PAM also encourages owners and communities to be trained and taught on fire safety measures to be taken in emergencies. In addition, they are in the midst of completing a guideline on fire safety for heritage buildings. – Construction+ Online